All too often we hear negative stories about Christianity, where institutionalised religion goes against the grain of a vibrant and living faith and Jesus the revolutionary is lost in a sea of social conservatism. It can be easy to forget that the plethora of bible passages from both the Old and New Testaments bear witness to God’s concern for the poor and our responsibility towards them. After all, who can forget those simple, yet powerful words written in Leviticus 25: 35 – “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you”? And what about 1 John 3:17, where it is written – “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him”?
Against this backdrop I found it so uplifting to read a short story on the BBC News website this morning featuring Einsiedeln Abbey, Switzerland’s oldest Benedictine monastery, which has opened its doors to asylum seekers.
The monastery’s new Abbot, Urban Federer, wants to create new roles for Einsiedeln that show just how relevant Christianity is to our modern age, particularly as these pertain to the challenges confronting 21st Century Switzerland. As Abbot Federer was reported as saying by the BBC, “As everywhere in Europe, there are more and more people coming from other countries, from other continents………….And I thought we should do something too, as a church, as a monastery.”
Abbot Federer, and the monks who live in his community, are beacons of light that prompt us to reflect on how we live out our faith. There is much that we can all do to reach out to the margins in innovative and effective ways.
You can read the whole story here.